Probiotics are “good” bacteria that you can introduce to your gut microbiome to maintain digestive health and strengthen your immune system. The name derives from the Greek words pro biota, meaning “for life”. The name itself thus has positive connotations.
You can get probiotics from food sources such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, kimchi, and other fermented foods. Alternatively, you can find them in the form of dietary supplements. Probiotics have many health benefits, but how to know if you need to take any? Which supplements or foods to consume? How often should you consume them? Can you overdose on probiotics? These are valid questions that everyone should consider.
Here are three essential things to know about probiotic supplements.
1. Probiotics Promote Gut Health
Your gut microbiome is populated by a collection of various bacteria and other microorganisms. Poor nutrition, stress, and infections can cause an imbalance in the microbiome. In these conditions, harmful bacteria proliferate. When your gut microbiome becomes unbalanced, you experience heightened health risks or digestive problems such as constipation, gas, or bloating.
Since they’re good bacteria, probiotics can restore the balance in your gut microbiome and promote gut health. By taking probiotics, you repopulate your microbiome with beneficial microorganisms.
2. Side Effects Are Rare or Negligible
Taking probiotic supplements is very safe for the majority of the population. There are few side effects associated with probiotics. Thirst, gas, bloating, and constipation are the most common side effects. However, it is important to acknowledge that probiotic supplements are dietary supplements, so they don’t require approval from the Food & Drug Administration.
Theoretically, probiotic supplements are very safe with minimal, if any, side effects. But supplements are not as stringently evaluated and heavily researched as drugs. As a consumer, you have to research the supplements you buy.
As long as you buy your probiotic supplements from reliable brands that sell what they advertise, you can take probiotics without worries. If you are not sure what probiotics are right for you, ask your doctor for recommendations.
3. There Are Different Types of Supplements
Each probiotic supplement contains specific strains of bacteria, so choosing the right supplement is critical. If your gut lacks a beneficial bacteria, you want the specific strain your microbiome is lacking. You don’t want to add more of the same strain of bacteria that dominates your microbiome.
Taking advantage of the many health benefits of probiotics is only possible if you find the right supplement for you. At the same time, taking the right supplement over a long period can also be detrimental to your gut health. You will have too much of the same strain of bacteria in your gut. For a healthy microbiome, avoid overpopulation of the same bacteria. Diversity is key.
If you have any reason to worry about your gut health, consider giving probiotics a chance. They can help you overcome many gut-related health problems. Whether you prefer to consume foods rich in probiotics or take supplements, ask your doctor for advice in advance.